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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Theater major channels sewing, drag skills in stage performances

Mia Hennen
Sapphie, a student drag performer, ends her first performance of the evening at Spectrum: LGBTQ & Allies’ Winter Drag Show on Dec. 9.

From splits to somersaults to flips, Seferino Ramirez Jr. designs his performance as a drag queen in more ways than one. Long before he steps onto the stage, he has choreographed his routine and handmade all of his costumes.

Ramirez, a theater major at Wichita State, was born in California before moving to Mexico, where his parents are from. He lived there for the first few years of his life before moving to Kansas, where he designed costumes for his high school theater program.

Early years

Ramirez’s initial interest in clothing design came from watching “Project Runway.” He started sketching designs — though he admits he can’t draw — and taught himself how to sew by hand. As a freshman at Garden City High School, he took a class to learn how to sew on the machine and then continued exploring more techniques on his own.

“The stuff I would learn from school, I would take it and apply it,” Ramirez said. “She (the teacher) was like, ‘This is how you make this type of sleeve,’ and I’d go and look up how to make another type of sleeve.”

His first opportunity to design costumes came after he was “thrown into” his high school’s performance of “In the Heights” due to a lack of performers.

“I was like, ‘I don’t know how to sing,’ and they were like, ‘Sure you can,’ and then they heard me sing and were like, ‘Oh,’” Ramirez said.

So Ramirez got the chance to help the theater program in a different way — he made a long-tailed mouse costume for “Alice in Wonderland.”

“It really impressed them, and I impressed myself. I didn’t know I could make something like that,” Ramirez said.

Throughout high school, he continued designing costumes for the theater program. By his senior year, he even designed multiple costumes, including a full pink ballgown for Ariel in “The Little Mermaid,” a favorite movie of his.

After losing a shoe, Sapphie performs for the crowd in her second set of the night. (Mia Hennen)

Community college

Ramirez carried his passion for costume design into his art program at Garden City Community College. He started designing more personal projects, and though the school lacked a theater program, the art program allowed him to sew instead of draw, even encouraging him to take fabric scraps for his designs.

“Now they have a theater program, and I hope they don’t realize that I took all their fabric,” Ramirez said. “The good ones, at least.”

While at Garden City Community College, Ramirez was president of the college’s equivalent to Wichita State’s Spectrum: LGBTQ & Allies, a book club and Student Government.

While at a pride event in Garden City, Ramirez met drag performers from Wichita. One of his pieces was on display at an art exhibit, which sparked interest from the performers. He exchanged social media information with them, which would later earn him opportunities in design and drag.

The start of a new dynasty

Once Ramirez moved to Wichita in September, he reached out to Dynasty, one of the drag queens he had met, and asked if she would be his drag mother. She invited him to audition after he sent her a video of his talent show performance.

The audition was not without its mishaps — his wig fell off — but it earned the praise of his drag mother.

“(She said) ‘You do splits, you do tricks, you do really good, and they’re getting mad,’ and I’m like, ‘Well, let them be mad, I’m cute or whateva,’” Ramirez said.

Ramirez now performs at XY Bar under the drag name Sapphie, donning his own creations while doing flips, stunts and tricks. The theater major said he used to teach quinceañera dances, and he practiced roundoffs and other stunts from a young age.

Kelly Bonnell, an education major and close friend of Ramirez’s, regularly attends Ramirez’s performance at XY and calls him a “natural-born performer.”

“It’s a powerful stage performance,” Bonnell said. “My girlfriend and I go and watch him, and he always gives our table a little special extra attention because, you know, we’re his people.”

Sapphie, a student drag performer, takes the stage for her final song of the evening at Spectrum: LGBTQ & Allies’ Winter Drag Show on Dec. 9.

He even made a costume for Dynasty for a pageant competition, working right up until the performance, but Ramirez says he works well under pressure. His costume earned the “Creative Showcase” award in the pageant.

“(I) made a whole hat 30 minutes before the pageant; I was hot-gluing things, I was like, ‘We’re going to get this done,’” Ramirez said. “So that helped get my name out there because I got reached out by a couple of drag queens, my (drag) aunties and my cousins.”

Ramirez also performed in the winter drag show at Wichita State, hosted by Spectrum. To match the holiday theme, he designed three outfits: a ball gown for Christmas, a bunny bodysuit for Easter and a heart-themed costume for Valentine’s Day.

“It was a really good crowd,” Ramirez said. “I was told by many people that I was their favorite of the night.”

Combining two passions

Aside from performing drag, Wichita State marks Ramirez’s entry into a collegiate theater program. He performed in the spring production of “Peter and the Starcatcher,” where his experience with quick costume changes came in handy for one scene.

“I’m pretty self-reliant, and I think the crew is really happy about it because they have all these other people to take care of,” Ramirez said.

Brittani Richardson, a makeup and hair designer for the show, said Ramirez incorporated aspects of drag into his character, from the stunts in his performance to the elements of his stage makeup.

“I just trusted that he would, if not collaborate, be able to be self-sufficient in bringing his character to life, and he went way beyond,” Richardson said.

While Ramirez enjoyed the theater production, he looked forward to more regularly performing in drag again, going straight from helping break down the set to performing at XY on Sunday. 

Outside of classes, drag performances and theater, Ramirez designs outfits for family, friends and co-workers. His 8-year-old sister has worn handmade Star Butterfly and Sailor Moon costumes, and last Halloween, one friend wore his rendition of the pink-and-white checkered dress from the “Barbie” movie, which Bonnell said looked “legit.”

“Sewing is kind of a hard concept that not a lot of people have mastered or take interest with our age,” Bonnell said. “It’s interesting that he makes all of these things by hand. It shows how passionate he is, and talented, really.”’

After graduation, Ramirez hopes to become a theater teacher. In the short term, he plans to perform in Wichita State’s upcoming talent show and spring drag show.

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About the Contributors
Courtney Brown
Courtney Brown, News Editor
Courtney Brown is one of the news editors for The Sunflower. She previously worked as a reporter and assistant news editor. Brown uses she/her pronouns.
Mia Hennen
Mia Hennen, Editor in Chief
Mia Hennen is the current editor in chief for The Sunflower. Before becoming editor, Hennen was the news/managing editor. They are a junior at Wichita State majoring in English and minoring in communications and Spanish, hoping to pursue any career involving writing or editing.

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